Wednesday Bubble: herbs for breast cancer prevention

Posted by on Oct 21, 2009 in breast cancer | 7 comments


In keeping in line with my commitment to inspiring, breast cancer-related bubbles during the month of October, I am happy to share some rather promising news.

This week, it comes from Germany and was reported this past August in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention: while hormone replacement therapy appears to increase the risk of breast cancer, use of herbal preparations containing phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds that act similar to estrogen) may actually prevent the most invasive type.

Wow! Sounds promising, right?

There has been a lot of noise surrounding the effectiveness of plant-based estrogens (e.g. soy isoflavones) for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Some studies suggest they work and others, that they don’t. In fact, I do believe that the verdict is still out, although when used properly and in coordination with a licensed practitioner, they might very well be worth trying — much more so than health risk laden hormones. Moreover, if their use does actually reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, which is the exact opposite of hormone therapy, well, then I am all for them!

In this particular investigation, researchers examined how and when over 10,000 postmenopausal women were using herbs and any possible relationship to development of breast cancer. The findings? Women who used herbs had a 26% lower risk of ever developing invasive breast cancer than those who did not. That’s quite a bit, right?

The researchers are unclear why this may be. However, I’m certainly encouraged by the news, news that an herb a day may keep breast cancer away. Definitely inspired by the fact that a natural compound might both improve  menopausal symptoms and offer protection. Happy Wednesday!

[Note! Many oncologists recommend that women with estrogen-positive tumours or those who are prone to them avoid plant based estrogens. As always it is essential to speak to a practitioner before using any over the counter herbal preparation!]


  1. 10-21-2009

    Liz, not for me unfortunately. Because my tumour was estrogen positive my oncologist advised against taking any estrogen, plant-based or otherwise. So I sweat on !

    • 10-21-2009

      You raise an important issue Christine and one that I’ve not looked into. I’m going to edit the post to include this thought. Thanks for the invaluable info!

  2. 10-21-2009

    Interesting indeed. I’m curious if the women who took the herbs had different lifestyles that helped with the reduced odds of developing breast cancer. Did everyone eat the same? Did they have similar family history? So many factors. Yet, said you said, inspiring and encouraging.


    • 10-21-2009

      Great questions Matt. In this particular study, participants who took herbs tended to exercise more and ate healthier. However, analyses showed that these factors did not affect the eventual results. Nor was risk affected by tumour status (ie estrogen positive or negative). Family histories were also similar between the groups.

  3. 10-21-2009

    You know, Matt, my only seeming risk factor for the development of my breast cancer was that I never had children. (: As for my lifestyle, well, we won’t even go there ! Cheers and sante !

  4. 10-23-2009

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  5. 3-12-2010

    Using natural way for health must become our lifestyle now before too late


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